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Sneakers and Simplicity

November 7th, 2013

With colder weather creeping in, I’ve switched from riding my bicycle to running on the track in State Gym. I decided I needed a new pair of shoes, since my sneakers (yes, I call them that, even though my children roll their eyes) had seen better days. I stopped at the shoe store and found myself staring at a wall full of fluorescent footwear. Lots of them. Which ones are for running? I asked. The sales people pointed at the wall and began to describe extensive technical and feature information. They pointed out information cards next to some shoes with more details about stabilization and pronation. There were even QR codes that could take me to a mobile version of the brand’s website so I could learn more about the specifications of the DayGlo lime model.

Huh? Um. I allotted around 20 minutes to get in, buy some sneakers, and get out and on my way. I run.  Not very fast. Usually inside. And don’t want my feet or wallet to hurt. What shoe fits that?

A recent Harvard Business Review study looked at what keeps people coming back to a brand and found more than price, more than snazzy accessories, or high tech gizmos it was “decision simplicity” — the ease with which consumers can gather trustworthy information and confidently and efficiently weigh their options. What consumers want is simplicity.

It made me wonder about the experience people have when they encounter Extension and Outreach. How easy is it to gather and understand information about our programs? If someone has never been part of an Extension and Outreach program before and stumbles across us in person or online, can he or she quickly learn about our programs and how to get involved? How many forms do people have to fill out to participate? How quickly do they get what they need and get on their way? To keep the citizens we currently serve and to reach those we don’t yet serve, we will have to remove obstacles and reduce the effort citizens must expend to engage with us. See you there.

– Cathann

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  1. Terry J.
    | #1

    Removing obstacles and increasing opportunities to participate are what we are addressing as we look at online registration and payment, marketing and information delivery. The ISUCEP Professional Development Day focusing on technology, will provide additional tools for engagement.

  2. Lynn Heuss
    | #2

    This was an excellent article and one I want to keep in mind as we move forward with Extension’s role in the local food system work. Thank you.

  3. Gary
    | #3

    Great analogy with the “sneakers”. We have a great product but we can overwhelm our customers with information that is difficult to find, digest and then implement. A constant challenge in making Extension ‘User Friendly’.

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